The NWHL’s Minnesota Whitecaps have their first official player: 2018 Goaltender of the Year Amanda Leveille.
Earlier in the offseason the Minnesota-native and Minnesota Golden Gopher alumna was at the press conference announcing the newest NWHL team. However, she expressed that she wanted to stay in Buffalo, where she’s played for the last two season and won an Isobel Cup in 2017. It seemed like a no-brainer that she would. She saw 970:37 minutes of ice time last season, all but 32 seconds of the Beauts’ season. Leveille was second in save percentage in the league with .918, just barely behind Riveters goaltender Katie Fitzgerald’s .920. She’s a fan favorite and a huge hit on social media as one-third of McLevMan.
“This has been an unbelievable time for women’s hockey and the NWHL, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue my professional playing career with the Whitecaps and to return to Minnesota – a community that means so much to me,” Leveille said in the league’s press release. “I was fortunate enough to be at the press conference when they announced the Whitecaps were joining the NWHL, and I feel that having a team in the State of Hockey is fantastic for everyone – the fans, the players, the game and our league. There is a such a wealth of hockey talent in Minnesota that this team can draw from. To be a part of a new chapter in woman’s hockey and to continue to grow the game is a privilege for me, and I can’t wait to wear the Whitecaps uniform.”
Then the Beauts signed Nicole Hensley on June 13. Many questioned what this meant for Leveille, if she would return home or split time with Hensley. Now it appears we have our answer. Hensley will likely be the starting goaltender for Buffalo, and Leveille, the heart of last season’s Beauts, is the favorite to be the starter in Minnesota.
Last season the Whitecaps had five goaltenders listed on their roster, including Julie Friend. With Leveille signed there’s only room for two more netminders in Minnesota with the NWHL’s 25 player roster limit. With that being said, the Whitecaps definitely have a workhorse starter in Leveille. “Especially in the playoffs, goaltending is such an essential position,” Minnesota captain Winny Brodt-Brown shared in the league’s press release. “In Lev, the Whitecaps have added one of the league’s best goalies – an Isobel Cup winner who plays her best in the clutch. We’re so happy that Amanda has returned to Minnesota to help lead us in our first season in the NWHL.”
Leveille will also coach goalies at Brodt Brown’s Os Hockey Training, according to the Star Tribune. Winny Brodt-Brown, long time Whitecaps player and daughter of the Whitecaps founder (Jack Brodt), is the director and head instructor.